After author Carolyn Rubenstein witnessed 10-year-old Kadeejah’s passion for living, even as
the young cancer patient took her last breaths, the stage was set for Perseverance. Rubenstein
wanted to help childhood cancer sufferers, but how? She began interviewing cancer survivors who
received their diagnoses as children or young adults. Twenty of those stories are shared within
the pages of Perseverance.
Some survivors we are introduced to include Dan Pack, diagnosed at age two with acute lymphocytic
leukemia; Emily Corwin, diagnosed with osteosarcoma her junior year in high school; and Amanda
Ramsdale, who was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer, medullary thyroid cancer. We
also hear from Matthew Ortiz, diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma while a student at Virginia Tech,
the person to whom the book is dedicated.
Rubenstein looked for similarities and differences in the responses of both the cancer sufferers
and their families and friends. When they got the bad news, what went through their minds? What did
cancer teach them? Many of them said they benefited from the experience, and Rubenstein quotes health
care professionals who agree that cancer survivors enjoy life more, are more positive in outlook, and
embrace readjusted value systems. They don’t sweat the small stuff anymore; they grab hold of life and
live it to the fullest.
Nevertheless, cancer treatment creates problems, too. Children who suffer cancer are affected
socially and psychologically to a great degree, far more extensively than adults. Immune system
breakdown and other medical issues will plague them from now on. Rubenstein captures the interviewees’
feelings and expressions, and gives every reader something to think about.